By Johnson House
Johnson House? Sound's like another name for your pants! Pants is probably what today's noo-rock yoof would say about this album of slow burners. It's not up front or in your face, it's not brash or bold and it's certainly not going entice you to raise your thumbs aloft in the air whilst pulling your spandex trousers out of your arse. The album is a collection of 12 songs recorded over a period of time at Leeds' own Hall Place. The production and playing here are top quality yet alas they are the major plus points of this disc. Vocalist Chris Harland has one of those voices where it just sounds as if he is trying too hard. It's not a bad voice, it's not a great one, it just has that quality where it seems it can't possibly be his natural singing voice. It sounds like you or I trying to do an Elvis impersonation and toning it down just a touch. By the end of track one it's grating on me which is certainly not a good thing. Whilst these country tinged love ballads are very nice, the whole product just has "get Mum for birthday" stamped all over it. There's no great delicacy or fragility in Harland's vocals that bring any warmth to the songs and despite the quality in performance from the rest of the band the content doesn't match it. The lyrics provide no saving grace either: "Lover make magic happen in me". What? Can you say that on daytime radio? It's like the alt country Kiss!!! Or maybe it's just me. If he was being sweet then it's just sickly. If not then it's just plain rude! Any fans of Michael Bolton, Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand will lap this up with glee but those of us with ears will most likely just cringe.